23rd Mar 2018

EU sex-posters spark protests in Austria

Three naked models masked as Jacques Chirac, Queen Elizabeth and George W. Bush depicted in sexual positions have caused embarrassment just a few days ahead of Austria taking over the EU helm.

A poster showing the lower body of a woman with her legs spread and wearing EU-flagged underwear has also caused uproar in the media and among politicians, demanding they be removed.

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The posters are part of a larger partly-publicly funded project '25 Peaces' celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Austrian republic and its ten years of membership of the EU.

Taxpayers are contributing 10 percent of the total 10 million euro project, while the rest of the money is from private sponsors.

A total of 150 posters were produced as part of the celebrations by 75 young European artists working under the umbrella title euroPART.

Their contribution may have passed rather unnoticed had it not been for the three posters which have sexual overtones.

All the posters are on display throughout the Austrian capital Vienna on 400 billboards until 24 January when they will be moved on to Salzburg.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel announced according to the Austrian daily Krone Zeitung that he had not been informed in advance of the content of the campaign.

He underlined the posters had nothing to do with art and that they had surpassed by far the borders of good taste.

Head of the Right-wing Freedom party Heinz Christian Strache was quoted saying by Austrian media that the posters depicted nothing more than "group sex fantasies", while Salzburg party-member Karl Schnell demanded the person responsible for the posters should be sacked.

As part of an independent cultural project it is unclear whether the posters can in fact be ordered removed.

Social Democrat top-official Norbert Darabos defended the principle of freedom of art, but criticised the project for cashing one million euro from the public coffers.

Social democrat deputy president of Austria's parliament, Barbara Prammer said in a statement: "Women are being displayed in sexist, demeaning manner on those posters". Chirac, Bush and the English Queen are degraded, she added.

Organisers of the project including the head of the national theatre Georg Springer defended the posters as "direct criticism of globalisation" adding that the underwear photo was being ironic about the EU.

Artist Carlos Aires, 31, from Madrid produced the naked trio. He said to the Telegraph they depicted "the most recent changes in Europe and the resulting special constructions".

The project also included ideas such as having cows graze the lawn outside the Belvedere Palace and planting a vegetable garden on Heroes' Square in Vienna, where Adolf Hitler announced Germany's annexation of Austria.

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